Starting this summer, celebrations can continue long after Gainesville residents leave the bar.

Celebration Pointe has instituted new open container rules, which allow visitors to carry alcoholic beverages with them as they shop and wander the growing area, said Sean McIntosh, senior vice president of asset management at Celebration Pointe.

Discussions about this regulation began a little under a year ago, McIntosh said. It was approved by both Alachua County and Florida state officials in May 2019.

Within Celebration Pointe, a “natural entertainment environment” composed of shops, restaurants and a theater, patrons will be able to carry drinks out of restaurants and bars as long as the drinks are in a clear plastic container provided by the restaurant, McIntosh said.

This rule will only apply to alcohol purchases made within the area, including any new restaurants such as The Keys, a piano bar and seafood restaurant opening in August under a former owner of Rockeys Dueling Piano Bar. Other restaurants and bars include the Regal Cinemas theater, MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company, Decadent Dessert Bar and the bar at Hotel Indigo, McIntosh said.

“Our goal is to make this a place where people of Gainesville come to celebrate life’s occasions, and this is just one more thing that allows people to enjoy this environment and enjoy these adult beverages in a responsible way,” McIntosh said.

It will be up to each establishment how it handles the new rules, McIntosh said.

Renzo Mori, a server at MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company, said MidiCi and Decadent Dessert Bar have allowed open containers for the past two weeks. However, he notes an additional rule is also in place.

Since the Regal theater has a bar of its own and is across the street from both MidiCi and Decadent, patrons are not allowed to bring drinks from the restaurants to the theater and vice versa, Mori said.

Drinks must be served by bartenders and staff members in their own restaurants to prevent people from bringing in old cups with outside beverages, due to safety concerns. Any outside liquors may be taken by security guards who work in the area, which is also how Celebration Pointe handles unauthorized drinking during their outdoor concerts, Mori said.

“We want to encourage to-go drinks because it's just fun to have a nice wine out while you're sitting at the patio and watching your kids play,” Mori said.